The first of the A to Zs I ever made. The idea behind it was to reduce the hundreds of photos I took to just 26.

A is for… Ayeyarwady River
A is for… Ayeyarwady River. From Mandalay, we took a boat along the river. One of the things we saw was a temporary village – the area this cow is standing in is flooded in the rainy season. A village is set up in the dry season (in order to grow peanuts), then is gone again when the rains return.

 

B is for… Balloons over Bagan
B is for… Balloons over Bagan. Bagan is an area with over 2,000 temples and pagodas. We took a dawn balloon flight to fly over them – unfortunately, the wind changed direction and we ended up just going up in the air, then back down again. Still, the balloon in the distance managed to get nearish the temples!

 

C is for… Crafts
C is for… Crafts. Myanmar has a wide range of handicrafts available. Some are made by hand, others are made by hand(power) tools.

 

D is for… Dragon
D is for… Dragon. Taken from a temple complex in Bagan. If you take away the ‘r’, you get Dagon – the name of a district of Yangon and also a local beer. These facts, whilst true, have nothing to do with this statue.

 

E is for… Elderly
E is for… Elderly. In Mandalay, we visited a Buddhist old people’s home (which was far cooler and more interesting that one might guess). I hilariously made my parents pose under the sign. Comedy gold.

 

F is for… Fisherman
F is for… Fisherman. The fisherman of Lake Inle padle with one leg wrapped around the oar, allowing them to have both hands free to do fishermany things, like catching fish.

 

G is for… Golden Palace Monastery (or Shwenandaw Monastery)
G is for… Golden Palace Monastery (or Shwenandaw Monastery). A teak monastry at the foot of Mandalay hill with lots of wood carvings. Once covered in gold leaf, it now has just a faint golden tinge.

 

H is for… Horse and cart
H is for… Horse and cart. One of a range of modes of trasport we used. Far more comfortable than an Ox taxi… (see O is for…)

 

I is for… Inflation
I is for… Inflation. Half the fun of balloon rides is seeing them inflate the balloon. That’s the sort of thing people say when their balloon ride never quite went where it was meant to…

 

J is for… “Jumping” cat monastery
J is for… “Jumping” cat monastery. Located on the shores of Lake Inle, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery is famous for the cats that the monks have trained to jump through hoops. Well, it used to be. They stopped the practise two years ago (which lonely planet hadn’t added to the book), so we arrived to find that the cats were slightly more sedate than we were expecting. This cat is the closest I saw to one jumping…

 

K is for… Kayan Lahwi
K is for… Kayan Lahwi. A subest of the Red Karen people, these women begin wearing metal coils aged 5. As they grow older, they add more and more rings to further stretch the neck out.

 

L is for… Lake Inle
L is for… Lake Inle. We spent two days chugging around on the lake – really beautiful and special area of the world.

 

M is for… Mount Popa
M is for… Mount Popa. Mount Popa is a volcano with a monastery on top, accessible via a 777 step climb. There are macaque monkeys on the way up and many more at the summit.

 

N is for… Nuns
N is for… Nuns. Not sure what they’re going to use this photo for mind… Facebook profile pic?

 

O is for… Ox drawn taxi
O is for… Ox drawn taxi. In Mandalay, we traveled about 1km on the back of this “taxi”. Quite possibly the least comfortable kilometre of my life…

 

P is for… Photo inception
P is for… Photo inception. Photographing a photographer who is photographing you. Only this time a monk was involved – which adds about 100 points.

 

Q is for… Queue
Q is for… Queue. At the Mahagandayon Monastery in Mandalay, 1,000 monks queue up to have their lunch served to them. It’s an amaing sight – but I prefered this shot which looks like a sort of West Side Story scene (but for monks).

 

R is for… Ruins
R is for… Ruins. Many temples and pagodas are in some state of ruin. This one was overgrown inside with trees gathered around a Buddha statue. I felt like Lara Croft.

 

S is for… Sunset
S is for… Sunset. We saw some MEGA sunsets in Myanmar, but none topped this one of Lake Inle. Photos can’t do it justice!

 

T is for… Temples of Bagan
T is for… Temples of Bagan. As in the ones we failed to fly over in the balloon… Still, they looked very pretty as the sun set over them.

 

U is for… U Bein bridge
U is for… U Bein bridge. A teak bridge in Mandalay and scene of another stunning sunset.

 

V is for… Vineyard
V is for… Vineyard. Red Mountain wines, overlooking Lake Inle. Beautiful grounds, decent food, distinctly average wine. Great fun though!

 

W is for… World’s largest book
W is for… World’s largest book. 730 of these 5 foot marble slabs (with writing front and back) make up the “world’s largest book” at the Kuthodaw pagoda (Mandalay hill). It contains the writings of the Tripiṭaka, a canon of Buddhist scriptures. The stones are housed in Kuthodaw pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill.

 

X is for… Xenagogue (a posh word for tour guide…)
X is for… Xenagogue (a posh word for tour guide…). This is Nanda, who showed us around Mandalay and was AWESOME. Knowledgeable and friendly – if you ever visit Mandalay, ask me for her details! You can make out the Thanaka cream on her face – almost all Burmese women wear this cream on their cheeks as a form of makeup, but also for protection from the sun.

 

Y is for… Yangon
Y is for… Yangon. The erstwhile capital (in 2006, the capital was relocated to Naypyidaw – think Canberra in Australia) is awful. A souless and uninspring city where the usual Burmese charm and friendliness seems to have disappeared amoung the smog. I took a candid shot of this girl being dragged through a temple – I felt a strong affinity with her feelings!

 

Z is for… “Zen”
Z is for… “Zen”. Zen is not strictly a word associated with Burmese buddhism (it’s a Chinese school of though). However, this “meditating” child is entirely staged – we arrived at the temple to a throng of Japanese photographers with some pretty high end equipment. They were on a tour that had arranged this staged shot for them to snap. One stepped in to change the angle of the candle. The borrowed word zen seems almost appropriate… Additionally, I overheard a man demanding that the tour guide take him to a pagoda with clouds behind it (he had an example photo), despite it being a clear and bright day. The guide had no idea how to broach it to the man that he couldn’t in fact control the weather…
This doesn't have to be goodbye

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